God has made us all unique. Different cultures. Different likes. Different skills. Different talents. This diversity is something to be celebrated. And our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Each of us has something of value to offer others, and everyone we encounter has something of value they can share with us. As a former cultural and social studies student, I could talk about this all day! One of our most obvious differences is age.
My grandparents live overseas, which means I have very little exposure to the everyday needs and experiences of seniors. So, when we launched a Take Love Virtual Visiting program that saw Anglicare residents interacting with school students, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
The program not only opened my eyes, but also those of the students and the residents. As I was wandering around during one of the visits, I could see the joy written on the residents’ faces as they shared their stories. Telling the students of the bike they used to ride to school or the jobs they had which no longer exist. Listening attentively, the students were giving the residents a gift that we all crave - to be seen. As one of the most socially isolated groups in our society (multiplied tenfold due to COVID-19) the experience of being seen, listened to and valued, created deep happiness for each resident.
On the other hand, the students had their own horizons expanded. Many noted that although it was sometimes difficult and awkward, they grew in their communication skills and worldview, taking delight in the opportunity to learn from someone very different from themselves and their peers. The blessing that intergenerational experiences can reap are well worth investing in and I would hate to see it disappear from our church and school communities.
If your grandparents live close, find a time to meet with them. And after you’ve finished catching up, ask them about their life. Pick some specific questions and get to know their story.
If you’re like me, and your grandparents live far away (or out of your LGA or 5km radius!) give yours a call. If you don’t have grandparents to reach out to, think about how you can connect with someone who is different to you. Whether it’s someone of a different age or culture, I guarantee it’ll be well worth your time. I could write another blog about this (and maybe I will!) but investing in diversity can only strengthen us as a community and grow you as an individual. But beyond all that, it’s a beautiful way of showing and bestowing love. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give is our ability to listen and to make someone feel heard and seen.
Take Love Coordinator